“Best of all, God is with us!” These are recorded as John Wesley’s final words and that same thought echoed in my heart as the 2021 Crossroads District Conference adjourned on Saturday afternoon. Thank you to Dr. David Wright and his helpful team (Phil Huber and many others) at Indiana Wesleyan University for being such generous hosts to our delegates for ordination and conference. We were honored once again this year to welcome as our special guest Rev. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent and a member of our conference, who led our ordination service on Friday evening and our communion service at the first session on Saturday.
Ordination service is always a highlight in our district life. Thank you to every ordained minister and spouse who, by their presence, helped to make this such a special evening. Dr. Wayne Schmidt ordained Rev. Joyce Dixon (Indianapolis Calvary), Rev. Ed Ensley (Marion Chapel Pike), Rev. Jessica Folz (Marion Lakeview), Rev. Allen Gross (Cicero United), Rev. Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers), Rev. Christian Kelley (Marion Lakeview), Rev. Stephen Mathews (Richmond LifeSpring), Rev. Scott McDermid (Sheridan Six Points), Rev. John Miller (Speedway Way City Church), Rev. Andy Riemersma Westfield ONE Church), Rev. Brandon Shroyer (Tipton Trinity), and Rev. Josh Warren (Laketon Wesleyan). Mr. James Bechdol (Lafayette Evergreen) was affirmed as a Commissioned Special Worker.
Thank you to our district office team: Rev. Seth Bye, Rev. Carla Working, and Michael (Woody) Wood for their countless hours and “can-do” attitudes. Special thanks to Josh Lavender and his team for leading such meaningful worship, and a profound debt of gratitude to Rev. Chip Bos who did amazing work this year as our videographer.
In addition to elections, the conference delegates debated three proposals brought forward by the Conference Action Committee. Delegates approved electing DBA members to 3-year alternating terms. Delegates approved an amended recommendation to move the minimum recommended salary for full-time pastors from $575 per week to $650 per week. (This adjustment reflected the change in cost of living since the original amount was established.) Delegates debated but ultimately defeated a recommendation that would have allowed local churches to withdraw from the denomination and retain their property if the denomination were to ever change its official position on same-sex marriage. Similar proposals have been passed in other districts and will likely be considered at General Conference 2022.
Our district conference concluded on a high note with a closing challenge and prayer for pastors who were willing to lead their churches in prayerfully considering where and by when they might be used of God to plant a new Kingdom community. Dr. Jim Lo led us in this closing prayer time over these pastors and our present corps of church planters. Mark your calendar and make plans to join us next year on June 24-25 for ordination and conference!
Sunday morning, June 27, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Dan Fisher and the wonderful folks at Delphi Wesleyan Church. Pastor Dan and Amy are beginning their 15th year of ministry at Delphi Wesleyan. Last year they averaged 38 in person and 13 online with four professions of faith and four baptisms. Dan preached a powerful message on “The Miracle of The Church” from Acts 2. Please remember Amy, Dan’s wife, who has some continuing health issues that may be related to her bout with Covid19.
While much of last week was consumed with conference prep, I was blessed to sit in on the Region 1 pastors and spouses enrichment event hosted last Monday at The River Church in Marion. Pastor Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS for Region 1, and his team at The River welcomed us for a lunch session, an afternoon Q & A, and an evening meal with Rev. Ken and Serena Murphy who lead the dynamic ministry of Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. The learning was rich, the fellowship was sweet, and the meals were delicious! Thank you, Pastor Trexler!
I am always encouraged to receive praise reports from our pastors. Yesterday afternoon, I heard from two of our pastors via texts with pictures. Pastor David Cox and the team at Laketon Wesleyan Church were rejoicing to report five baptisms on Sunday morning. The group pictured below includes one lady who is 95-years-old and also includes Pastor David’s 14-year-old grandson. Praise God for lives being #MadeNew!
Pastor Rich VanVuren shared the exciting report of five new members joining the Shiloh Wesleyan Church last Sunday and two new believers being baptized yesterday as a public profession of their new lives in Christ. We rejoice with Pastor Rich and the Shiloh team as they continue to pray and work together to see more lives being #MadeNew!
Pastor Matthew Stewart passed along the good report that the Wesleyan Bible Bowl team from Sweetser Wesleyan Church placed 2nd in the national event in Oklahoma earlier this month and that Brian Crossman, their team member, won 1st place in individual quizzing. Congratulations to Sweetser Wesleyan and Pastor Stewart who served as their team’s coach. If your church would be interested in developing a Bible quizzing team, Pastor Stewart is willing to help your volunteers get off to a strong start.
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom here in the Crossroads of America!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn at The Bridge in South Bend. Pastor Terry and Lennaire have been faithfully making disciples and developing leaders in the core city. They are truly Kingdom entrepreneurs who serve wholeheartedly while managing a growing family and three businesses. Commitment to Christ, creativity in ministry, and passion for the lost are key markers of this ministry. I enjoyed the original rap songs and the testimonies that were shared for Father’s Day. The Bridge runs from 30 to 50 in person while also growing their online ministry. Last year they were blessed to baptize 11 new believers. Most of you know this, but church planting is truly a team effort. Spouses of church planters are real heroes. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn are great examples of that partnership. Pray as they continue to advance the Kingdom!
Sunday morning, I was also able to drop in on Rev. Greg Holmes and the team at South Bend Sonlight Fellowship. Pastor Greg interviewed two participants from their youth camp and several members of the congregation took time to share tributes to their fathers. Pastor Greg and Cheryl are beginning their 16th year of ministry at Sonlight Fellowship. Earlier this spring, Sonlight Fellowship began hosting the South Bend campus of Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana that is being launched by Pastor Ruben and Susana Santos. Join me in praying for the impact of these ministries in South Bend.
Last week’s schedule included appointments on Monday, staff meetings on Tuesday, and one of the last coaching conversations of the season. On Wednesday, our office staff and some terrific volunteers gathered to assemble the 500 packets for delegates and friends who will gather this Saturday, June 26, for district conference. Many hands made light work so we finished promptly and then shared lunch together at one of our favorite spots in downtown Marion.
Thursday evening, I was blessed to connect with Rev. Jeff and Arianna Eckhart for the last evening rally of Never The Same Camp (NTS) held again this year at Indiana Wesleyan University. Approximately 1000 students and their leaders gathered for this year’s event. More than one hundred students responded to the salvation message and professed faith in Jesus Christ. The Thursday evening rally has traditionally been focused on the call to ministry. This year, 112 students responded by saying “Yes” to serving wherever God calls them to serve. Pray for the important followup work that will be taking place in our local churches over the coming months. If your youth group is looking for solid discipleship resources to help your teenagers take their next steps, check out the helpful “Soul Exercises” material that NTS has developed: https://soulexercises.com/
Sherry and I enjoyed a couple of days away last week including time with our granddaughter Lennon and her parents. John, our oldest child and Lennon’s dad, turned 30 on Friday so we gathered in Grand Rapids with all of our children to celebrate his birthday and his first Father’s Day.
This is the week! Prayers have been focused. Plans have been made. Now we gather from our 108 local churches. Our aim is for pastors and lay delegates to come away with renewed vision and passion for the great mission to which God has called us. If you’re not attending the sessions, I would be grateful if you would join us in prayer for the Ordination Service on Friday evening, 7 p.m., and for District Conference 2021 on Saturday, from 9 until 4:30. We are pleased that Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, will be able to join us for both days. Together, may we rise to the challenge of making disciples who make disciples and multiplying churches among the 3 million unreached people here in Indiana and on to the ends of the earth!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with the congregation at Hartford City Wesleyan Church. The DBA graciously permitted me to fill in as the interim (very part-time) pastor for HCWC after the unexpected resignation of their pastor last summer. I’m not there often on Sundays but have chaired the weekly staff meetings and monthly LBA meetings. One of the joys has been working alongside their ministry staff which includes Rev. Mark Schnell (Assistant Pastor), Ben Robison (assistant for youth and preaching), Gillian Haenggi (youth director), Zera Garrett (children), John Bonham (administration) and others.
Yesterday was a special occasion as we said farewell to Ben Robison who has served the church so well in this transition. He carried much of the preaching load in the fall and also mentored Gillian who will be leading the youth team this year. It was a joy to join with Rev. Schnell and the leadership team in praying a blessing over Ben and Mandi as they move to Georgia for new ministry and graduate school opportunities.
Sunday evening, I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Jerome Bell and the launch team for Autumn Hills Church in Pendleton. The team enjoyed supper together (thank you, Jayne) followed by Bible study and planning. Pastor Joe and Julia Jackson (Anderson United Wesleyan) also dropped in to be an encouragement. Pastor Jerome and Lenita are excited about their “Art Camp” community connection event beginning next week. Pray that God will continue to open hearts to the Gospel as this team reaches out with God’s love!
Last week’s schedule included preparation for District Conference 2021. Our staff met on Tuesday, and then again Thursday with the DBMD and the DC2021 planning team. Tuesday also included joining in with General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt for one of his monthly Zoom meetings with the district superintendents. One of the highlights of that call was his report that 1873 unique connections joined in on one of the two live presentations of the Pentecost Prayer Gathering that he hosted last month. That online gathering included Wesleyans from 54 countries of the world!
Wednesday morning, I first met with Rev. Chip Bos (Marion College Wesleyan) and Seth Bye to shoot video for our conference before heading to Union City for my coaching conversation with Pastor John Hannan. Pastor John and Beth are doing a remarkable job of loving their community and launching CrossRoads Church. I closed out the day worshiping with the students and leaders at Fairmount Youth Camp. Jacob Thurston was the camp evangelist and the leadership team was very encouraged by the strong spiritual response (more than 30 professions of faith). Pray for the important follow-up work that will be happening in their home churches. Also pray for our district students who will be gathering this week at Indiana Wesleyan University for Never The Same (NTS) Camp.
Thursday, the DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development) convened for a report on the review of Annual Service Reports and to make final ministerial appointment recommendations for district conference. Thursday afternoon, I met with Rev. Duane Seitz for an update on the ministry at Silver Lake Wesleyan Church. While Silver Lake only averaged 19 in worship, they celebrated 4 new professions of faith and 7 baptisms last year!
The highlight of Friday was welcoming six pastors and their spouses to our home for an evening of food, fun, and fellowship. There is something powerful that happens when pastors and their spouses get together. Laughing together, occasionally crying together, and always praying together makes a stronger team. I am grateful for each leader who was able to make this investment of time in their teammates this year.
Here’s another opportunity to join us in building a stronger team. Our next district-wide leadership development opportunity is coming up on Monday, June 21. Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church in Marion are hosting Rev. Ken and Serena Murphy for three powerful sessions. You can come for only one of those sessions or join us for all three.
Many of you will know Ken from his leadership at Cypress Wesleyan Church, one of the fastest growing Wesleyan churches in the USA. Ken has a huge heart for encouraging pastors and their spouses. He and Serena understand the pressures of leadership on couples and families. There is no charge for pastors and their spouses but we do need you to pre-register so we can make arrangements for the meals. Here’s the link for more information and your registration:
For those of you who will be joining us in person, Ordination Service will begin promptly on Friday, June 25, at 7 p.m. in the chapel at Indiana Wesleyan University. All ministers under appointment in the Crossroads District are expected to attend. We are honored that Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, will be leading the service again this year.
Conference begins promptly at 9 on Saturday morning in the same location. Delegates, both ministerial and lay, have preregistered online so that meal preparations are adequate. We look forward to celebrating God’s faithfulness together. Please join us in praying that God will direct our deliberations and be glorified in our collective ministry.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, June 6, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor John Miller and the team at Way City Church in Speedway. It was also good to reconnect with Ethan Zent, recent Kingswood University graduate who just completed his initial residency with Indianapolis Trinity Church. Ethan is heading to Sioux Falls, SD for a two-year residency at Ransom Church.
Pastor John and Heather Miller stepped out in faith to plant here in their hometown back in the fall of 2019. They came back to Speedway after serving on staff at a larger church and also being part of the launch team at Waterline Church with Rev. John and Danielle Freed.
Way City Church currently leases space in a sanctuary owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. They share the building with a food bank and an immigration center. Launching a new church a few months before the pandemic was not part of their strategic plan but they flexed to hybrid church with an average of 30 “in person” and 15 engaged online each week this last conference year. Pray that God will continue to bless the Miller’s and this new Kingdom community!
Sunday evening, I dropped in on one of the three youth camps in which our district churches will be partnering this summer. In addition to Hanging Rock Camp and Never The Same Camps, a good number of our district teenagers take advantage of the camping programs offered by Fairmount Camp.
I was glad to see several of our pastoral team members serving at Fairmount Camp this week. Rev. Emily and Rev. David Hines (Brookhaven Wesleyan), Pastor Ben Capshaw (Elwood Central), Pastor Jeff Brady (Commoners Church), and Ty Combs (youth pastor at Indianapolis Trinity) were just a few of the leaders I had the chance to connect with before the evening rally. Pray that God moves powerfully in the lives of our students during these summer camps!
Last week’s schedule was abbreviated with Memorial Day on Monday, but I was able to connect with our staff on Tuesday before heading to Wisconsin for the meaningful memorial service for Rev. Dan Bickel, former DS of Wisconsin District. Pastor Dan was one of our own having been raised in Muncie, graduated from IWU and first served in pastoral ministry here in the Crossroads District. Please continue to remember Mrs. Reenie (Hoover) Bickel and the family in your prayers.
I appreciated the opportunity to connect with four of our pastors for coaching conversations this past week. Pastor Jerome Bell and I met for our coaching conversation at the Autumn Hills Church building in Pendleton on Tuesday morning. Pastor Bell is continuing to invest in launch team development and community connections projects. The Autumn Hills Church team members are excited about their next outreach event using the Art Camp concept. Pray that God will bless their ministry to neighborhood children and their families.
Dr. David Drury is completing his ninth year of service as Chief of Staff for the General Superintendent’s office while also serving as a church planter. We met in his office on Thursday morning for our annual coaching conversation. David will be transitioning into a full-time writing and consulting role this summer while he and Kathy continue to plant One MultiChurch Network. Their microchurch has a specific focus on their Muslim neighbors. This significant ministry requires longterm commitment. David also coaches a network of more than 40 microchurch leaders across the country. Pray that God will guide and provide!
Rev. Gwen Jackson and I met online on Thursday afternoon for our coaching conversation. Pastor Gwen leads another microchurch in the network with the Drurys called 3D. She and her team have also been able to build relationships with Muslims who are open to studying the Bible and learning more about Jesus. Pray that God will continue to deepen these friendships and open the door for more conversations about the hope we have in Christ.
Thursday evening, I met with potential partners for a church planting project in Hendricks County. It was a delight to connect with this team and to hear their vision for reaching friends and neighbors among the 100,000 unchurched people in their county. Pray with me that God will continue to raise up laborers for His harvest!
Friday morning, Pastor Ben Parker (Fairmount Back Creek Church) and I met for our coaching conversation. Pastor Ben just came through a recent challenging experience with Covid-19 in their congregation. Pastor Ben and Helen, his wife, along with several congregation members in their church family tested positive. Only one member was hospitalized but is now on the road to recovery. Pray for God’s continued healing and full recoveries.
Pastor Don Bayne and the team at New Carlisle Wesleyan Church found that people responded well to outdoor services last summer in the peak of the pandemic. They decided to offer this again even though their county has relaxed indoor seating restrictions. Pastor Don reported another positive response with strong attendance in person and folks also joining online. They will continue offering this outdoor worship experience through July 4.
Our greatest celebration is when people surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. We are celebrating this week with Pastor Seth Bye and the team at Nehemiah Church in Avon as they baptized their first new believer in this calendar year. Pastor Seth is leading the church through a process that will result in their relaunching this fall so this was an encouraging way to conclude the present season of ministry as they look forward to the next. Praise the Lord for lives being #MadeNew!
Pastors have already received their invitations directly via email but just a reminder about our next district-wide leadership development opportunity coming up on Monday, June 21. Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church in Marion are hosting three sessions with Rev. Ken and Serena Murphy. Many of you will know Ken from his leadership at Cypress Wesleyan Church, one of the fastest growing Wesleyan churches in the USA. Ken has a huge heart for encouraging pastors and their spouses. He and Serena understand the pressures of leadership on couples and families. There is no charge for pastors and their spouses but we do need you to pre-register so we can make arrangements for the meals. Here’s the link for more information and your registration:
Your prayers make a difference. Please continue to intercede for the health concerns of Pastor Dan Clark (Monon Wesleyan), Mrs. Amy Fisher (Delphi Wesleyan), and Pastor Brad LeRoy (McCordsville Harvest Community Church).
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom in your zip code and beyond!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, May 30, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with the fine folks at North Anderson Wesleyan Church. Pastor David Shafer and Assistant Pastor James Scott Stamper lead this growing ministry. NAWC has stayed busy during the pandemic with the most recent project being the expansion of their entryway to make room for a welcome center and coffee counter. Following the morning service, I met briefly with their Local Board of Administration and then Sherry and I hosted the pastoral families for lunch.
Last week's schedule included a board meeting (via Zoom) for the Wesleyan Bible Conference Association (Brooksville) and a district conference planning team meeting in Marion. Please make plans now to join us for ordination service at the IWU Chapel Auditorium on Friday evening, June 25, at 7 p.m. as we celebrate the ordination of 12 women and men who are answering God's call. District Conference will convene on Saturday morning, June 26, with doors opening at 8 a.m. and the business session beginning at 9. We are grateful that our General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt will be able to be with us for both of these events. Pastors have already received information for pre-registering their delegation. For more information, follow this link:
Tuesday afternoon I led the weekly meeting for our district office team and then met with the staff at Hartford City Wesleyan. On Tuesday evening, I met with the Local Board of Administration at Lone Oak Wesleyan Church. I chaired the meeting as they interviewed Dr. Robert Hallett to serve as their interim pastor. The LBA voted unanimously to request the DBA to make that appointment and the DBA approved that request. Dr. Hallett will begin his ministry at Lone Oak on Sunday, June 27, and lead the congregation through a process similar to the work he did with Lancaster Wesleyan last year.
Our schedule took a delightful turn last week with the arrival of our first grandchild. John and Lindsey, our oldest son and his wife, welcomed Lennon Joy Gorveatte early on Monday morning. With Covid restrictions, we waited until they were released home on Wednesday but were thrilled to take a few days off to meet this special gift from God. We welcome tips and advice from those of you who have more experience at grandparenting.
Pastor Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview Wesleyan) dedicated a baby and baptized the mother in a special service at their home last week. The family attended Eastview Wesleyan while they were students at IWU. While they’ve moved back home, they continue to feel like part of the Eastview congregation through the online ministry.
Dr. Steve Bray and our LifeSpring Church in Richmond celebrated a total of 20 baptisms last weekend with 9 of those at the South campus and 11 more at the North campus. Praise the Lord for these lives being #MadeNew!
Our prayers and sympathies are extended to the family of Rev. Dan Bickel, formerly the Wisconsin District Superintendent. Sherry and I will be traveling to Wisconsin for his funeral on Wednesday. Dan was pastor to our family when we moved to Wisconsin back in 1998.
Dan graduated from Marion College (Indiana Wesleyan University) in 1973, and received his Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1976. Dan married Reenie (Hoover) on July 8, 1972. They were married for 49 wonderful years with two sons and six grandchildren.
Dan served as youth pastor and worship director at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church, Marion, IN, and as pastor at Etna Avenue Wesleyan Church, Huntington, IN. In 2001 he became District Superintendent of the Wisconsin District.
Dan and Reenie both have deep roots in the Crossroads District. He was born in Hartford City (April 17, 1951) and raised in Muncie. His parents were part of the team that helped launch Rising Hope Church in Muncie. His father-in-law is Dr. Ed Hoover, former district treasurer, and his brothers-in-law (through marriage to Reenie's sisters) are Rev. Stan Hoover (retired DS), Rev. Joel Gearhart (Brookhaven Wesleyan), and Rev. Mike Schultz (Indianapolis Trinity). Please remember the Bickel family in your prayers.
Memorial contributions may be made in Dan’s name to the Wesley Seminary Scholarship Fund at Indiana Wesleyan University. The memorial service will be held at Blackhawk Church, 9620 Brader Way, Middleton, WI, on Wednesday, June 2, at 2:00 pm, with Rev. Ron Gormong officiating.
Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent